2020 is shaping up to be the most momentous year of this century. Coronavirus has affected the whole world, and the way we live our lives could well change forever.
However, on social media there have been plenty of other topics that have gone ‘viral’. Here’s our pick of the top social media moments of 2020 so far.
Black Lives Matter
The death of George Floyd on May 25th caused outrage across the planet, and the subsequent ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign spawned huge protests.
On social media, this was reflected in millions of tweets and posts using #blacklivesmatter. From May 26th until June 7th, this hashtag was used over 47 million times on Twitter alone.
Subsequently, Blackout Tuesday took place on June 2nd with businesses closing and social media users changing their profile photos in a collective protest against police brutality.
During this period, it’s also important to highlight how #Anonymous was trending with 575,00 tweets after the Anonymous hacking group attacked the website of Minneapolis Police Department in retribution for George Floyd’s death.
ZoomSphere Viewpoint: For the most part, The Black Lives Matter campaign highlights just how powerful social media can be in exposing inequality and forcing societal change. In the modern world, those people and businesses persecuting others and peddling hate have very few places to hide.
100 Million Trees
Wildfires in the Amazon and Australia received major attention on social media, and while the reaction was understandably sad, one positive has been the phenomenal growth of Ecosia.
The search engine that plants forests has now managed to plant 100 million trees! This is due to a near doubling of its active user base (8 million to 15 million).
Much of this growth happened thanks to their loyal social media following that regularly share and retweet Ecosias post’s on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition, there’s also a student led Ecosia on Campus campaign to try and get universities to switch their computers to Ecosia – over 60 universities currently have Facebook pages and groups to promote the campaign.
Business Insight: Ecosias 100 million tree milestone has only been made possible by a passionate social media following who actively promote Ecosia and act as ambassadors for their brand. They are bound together by a shared common cause – the fight against climate change and the restoration of nature.
Covid-19 lockdowns have resulted in a surge of social media activity, with Facebook usage increasing by 37%.
However, the real winners have been messaging apps, especially WhatsApp. Having initially benefited from a 27% increase in the early phase of the pandemic, countries in the later stages have reported usage increases of up to 51%, as people stay in touch with friends and relatives.
Countries with close family ties have performed even better – WhatsApp use in Spain grew by 76%.
Business Insight: The use of Messaging apps had already increased significantly in recent years, but the pandemic has taken growth to another level. Ambitious marketers can use this to their advantage by running WhatsApp advertising placements via Facebook Business Manager.
World War 3
2020 started off with a huge international moment as an American drone assassinated Iran’s top military commander, General Qasem Soleimani.
During the the speculation about what might happen next, the hashtag #WW111 was used millions of times on social media, along with both pro and anti-American videos and images.
Comparisons were also made between Soleimani’s death and the assassination of Franz Ferdinand which led to World War 1.
Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and the ‘war’ never materialised, but what can this tell us about social media?
News or content that provokes a significant emotional reaction in a large number of people = viral content.
5G Conspiracy Theories
Of course, anybody who spends the slightest amount of time on social media knows that these platforms can be breeding grounds for conspiracy theorists. No matter how implausible the theory, it does not take much for thousands of people to become loyal believers.
One of the biggest (and most ridiculous) conspiracy theories of 2020 is the claim that 5G telephone masts are infecting people with coronavirus. Supporters have burned masts all over Europe – equipment has been damaged in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Sweden and Cyprus.
In the UK, theorists have even claimed that the new £20 banknote contains a coded message showing a 5G mast and coronavirus (it’s actually a lighthouse and a staircase!).
Several Facebook groups played a key role in spreading 5G misinformation and were subsequently deleted by Facebook, despite having more than 62,000 members.
ZoomSphere Viewpoint: While it is sad that people can be so easily manipulated by fake news, the rapid spread of this conspiracy theory demonstrates the power of large Facebook groups. They can be used in a more positive way by businesses looking to develop loyal brand advocates.
Stop Hate For Profit
The Stop Hate For Profit campaign is quickly gaining momentum – so far over 1000 advertiser’s have pledged to boycott Facebook until they better regulate the racist content posted on their platform.
Adidas, Colgate, Unilever, Coca Cola, North Face, and Walgreens are just some of the huge names that have paused their marketing efforts.
For many years, campaigners say that Facebook has allowed violent and racist content, while the ‘report’ feature is simply not fit for purpose.
As the boycott grows and shares tumble, Facebook may well have to finally take a more active policing role if they are to protect their 60 billion dollar advertising revenues.
Business Insight: By taking a stand and joining the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, several large brands have displayed a social conscience and good ethics. This shows a human side to their business and is likely to lead to long term benefits such as customer retention and new customer acquisition.
While Facebook may have been hesitant in regulating content. Twitter has recently been taking a much stronger stance – in a massive social media moment they even censored Donald Trump for glorifying violence.
Hours later, they repeated the move when the White House Twitter account tried to post a copy of his original tweet.
Trump was obviously furious and targeted social media companies within days by signing an executive order seeking to end their ability to edit or censor ‘free speech’!
Business Insight: Like it or not, regulation and censorship is at the whim of the social network platform. Users and brands play by the platform rules. To have a one on one communication channel, turn social media followers into email subscribers by using lead magnets and regular competitions.
Finally, and most significantly, it’s hard to overstate the relevance of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
4 million tweets per day give some kind of indication to the impact it continues to have on our daily lives. While there has been an element of misinformation, social media platforms have been absolutely crucial for Governments around the world to display and promote their public health messages.
Without social media, it is likely the death toll could have been much worse.
One interesting project worked on by researchers involves analysing a huge amount of social media posts relating to coronavirus, and how the posts changed as the pandemic progressed.
As one of the team states:
“This dataset will allow researchers to investigate the spread of misinformation relating to COVID-19, study the change in population behaviors and sentiments as the virus spreads in different geographic areas, and quantify the effects of social distancing efforts and changes in human mobility patterns over course of the pandemic.”
At ZoomSphere, we love all things social…